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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 5 June, 2020
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'The phone is ringing off the hook': SeniorLine reports increase in calls amid cocooning confusion

Third Age says the Covid-19 crisis has created new populations of older people unused to living in isolation.

Third Age Ireland operates SeniorLine from 10am -10pm every day.
Third Age Ireland operates SeniorLine from 10am -10pm every day.
Image: Twitter/hirdAgeIreland

THERE HAS BEEN an increase of around 180% in the number of people contacting SeniorLine, Ireland’s only national dedicated peer-to-peer telephone service for older people.

That is according to Anne Dempsey, Communications Manager with Third Age, which runs the service.

In 2019 the service received close to 10,000 calls and in the past three weeks calls have risen steadily and are now in the region of 180% higher than usual, she said. 

Dempsey, who was one of the volunteers answering the line over the weekend said: “the phone is ringing off the hook from 10am to 10pm now.” 

She said there is fear among those who call and she said that a few callers, “did not know they were meant to cocoon and there was some confusion over the 2 km reference.” 

“Our experience is that older people are very responsible about this, they are less likely to be out clubbing until 4am and there is a social responsibility with our callers. What people miss most is their walk and again that is a valid issue because older people who don’t walk can get very stiff.” 

Third Age says the Covid-19 crisis has created new populations of older people unused to living in isolation and currently struggling with this reality. 

Third Age has put in place a SeniorLine Covid-19 Protocol which combines health information to callers (within HSE guidelines), with practical advice and tips on living safely and keeping emotionally well. 

SeniorLine was established in 1998 and has 180 trained volunteers who deliver the service every day of the year from 10am to 10pm.

It issues twice daily updates to volunteers and is currently working to extend operations from 8am to midnight to cater for increased demand. The freefone number is 1800 80 45 91.

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Elaine Keogh

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